If you have read this blog in the past, particularly during last season, you would know that I'm not a happy camper after losses. I've never been a fan of taking positives out of a loss and I can't recall a time where I walked out of a rink genuinely excited following a BC defeat. That changed yesterday. I've never seen a BC team play so well in a losing effort, in fact, I would say they played much better than they did against Army on Friday night but the puck just didn't bounce their way. Don 't let this be any slight to RPI, they played an absolute heck of a hockey game. Jason Kasdorf turned in one of the best goaltending performances I've ever seen. To go along with their netminder's stellar play, RPI blocked a whopping 45 BC shots and to be honest it felt like 145 shots. Obviously, no one wants to lose but maybe it is a good thing for this young Eagle squad that has yet to face any adversity.
The first period was relatively even (shots were 13-13) but it was BC's penalty kill that stole the show. I can't remember RPI getting any quality chances on the power play throughout the entire game until their second goal of course. BC did a great job of disrupting their breakout to a point where the Engineers couldn't even get the puck into the zone to set things up. Of the 12 forwards dressed, they have 8 of them killing penalties which is a lot considering they could only roll 5 or 6 a year ago. BC had it's chances throughout the period but as was the case all night, Kasdorf made some terrific saves.
The second period was BC's best of this young season. I thought the line of Colin White, Adam Gilmour, and Ryan Fitzgerald was easily BC's top unit as they generated 10 shots on goal. Perhaps the most pivotal moment of the game was when BC had back to back power plays, moved the puck around tremendously, but could not find a way to get it past Kasdorf about midway through the period. It was nearly impossible for BC's defenders to get pucks on net in order to create rebound opportunities thanks to RPI's relentless blocking. In the final two minutes of the period, the Eagles continued to keep the pressure on in the offensive zone but after a miscue, RPI took the puck up ice on a 3 on 3. I actually thought BC covered the play pretty well but Riley Bourbonnias' shot seemed to deflect off Teddy Doherty's stick and into the net. I don't believe Demko ever saw it. Just like that, BC trailed for the first time all season heading into the third period.
Three minutes into the third, the refs whistled Ryan Fitzgerald from elbowing, a penalty in which the Engineers were able to take advantage of. As they had been doing all game, BC didn't give RPI anything on the PP in the first minute and a half of Fitzgerald's penalty but after a neutral zone turnover from Zach Sanford, RPI beautifully executed a 3 on 2, giving the home team the all important 2 goal lead. It's easy for me to sit here and say BC should have just iced the puck instead of trying to make something out of nothing on the man down but Sanford's the type of player that always wants to try and make a play (which is a good thing). Unfortunately, he was the victim of a pretty vicious hit that allowed RPI to gain possession and eventually score. However, as was the case on Friday night, Sanford redeemed himself a couple minutes later when he banged home a Teddy Doherty pass on the power play, cutting the lead in half. BC kept pushing hard to try and even the score and Scott Savage had perhaps the best chance to do that when a rebound squirted out to him near the circle but Kasdorf made an unbelievable diving stop. I have been wondering what the staff would do in late game situations, particularly when down a goal, because you could make the case that anybody on the top three lines should be on the ice. After Coach York called a timeout with about 1:30 left, he sent White's line out there (plus Cangelosi) with McCoshen and Casey Fitzgerald at the point. There were certainly some people on the Twitter waves who were complaining about Bracco, Tuch, and Sanford not being out there but let's be honest here, the staff made the right move. The first line was a non-factor all night long, they're supposed to be the top line in the country and they didn't muster much of anything versus a team that isn't necessarily known for the defensive prowess. I thought Colin White was BC's best player throughout the game so there is no doubt he should have been on the ice. Anyways, the Eagles did everything but score in the final seconds and RPI came away with the biggest upset of this young college hockey season.
Like I said in the opening paragraph, I could not be happier with the way BC played, especially considering it was the second leg of a Friday-Sunday road trip. There are certainly some things they need to work on but I thought they cut back on the turnovers, the power play moved the puck around all game long, the penalty kill was aggressive, and Demko played a solid game once again. I can't really think of any glaring errors. Some will say they only scored 1 goal and we might be headed down the same road as last season but they generated 37 shots, which was preceded by 40 shots on Friday. Sometimes you run into a hot goaltender and they steal the game, it's hockey. If BC plays like that for the rest of the season, they're going to win a heck of a lot of games. Onto Wisconsin.
Why BC lost-
1. Kasdorf was a magician. I can't think of many goaltending performances that were better than that. Sean Fields in the 2004 Beanpot final might be #1 but last night is right up there with it.
2. First line struggled. I wouldn't worry too much about these guys, they're going to be fine, just give it time. I know Bracco doesn't have a point yet but he is still adjusting to playing against guys that are six years his senior. I hope the staff keeps them together.
1. That is as good as I have seen a BC team play in a long time, win or lose. Colin White, Austin Cangelosi, and Ryan Fitzgerald were probably BC's three best forwards.
Injury note- Brendan Silk suffered a separated shoulder on Friday night. He is out indefinitely.
Next- Wisconsin on Friday. Home opener.